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Scots split over Tory party future

A Tory leadership contender has split senior members by vowing to disband the Scottish party if he is elected.

Murdo Fraser, who is already deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, says the brand is tainted north of the border and must be totally overhauled if it is to become a credible force again.

His plan was supported by a former Tory Scottish Secretary but prompted fears among other senior politicians that it could "encourage nationalism" and play into the hands of the SNP.

It also forced Glasgow MSP Ruth Davidson to confirm she will contest the leadership race and protect the present party.

Mr Fraser said: "What I'm saying is there's a lot of interest in centre-right values among people in Scotland, but they don't vote for the Conservative Party.

"I think it's time we launched a new, progressive, centre-right party with a distinct Scottish identity. One that would have a partnership with the UK Conservative party, and in other respects be operationally independent. I think that would be much more attractive to many people in Scotland who share our values.

"We'd be able to elect far more MPs to the House of Commons to support a future Conservative government."

The new group, which does not have a name, would contest Westminster, Holyrood and council elections, leaving Prime Minister David Cameron with the prospect of having no MPs in Scotland.

The Tories were wiped from the political map in Scotland in 1997 and have failed to make significant progress since then, with only one MP north of the border.

The Scottish party dropped two seats at the Holyrood election in May, leaving it with 15 MSPs from the total of 129.


From Belfast Telegraph